“As a corrected left-hander, I have experienced difficulties when reading since a very young age. Discovering my leading eye has enabled me to better understand these problems. The exercises suggested by Joëlle also helped me to become familiar with my left hand and to find soothing, calming and creative sensations. Their application in daily life is not always easy and requires a real investment, but there is a real change that emanates from laterapedagogy.”

I met with Anne-Marie, a professor of graphology and graphotherapy based in Lyons, to complete a detailed analysis of three samples of my own handwriting:

  • From left-to-right with the right hand
  • From left-to-right with the left hand, and
  • From right-to-left with the left hand using tracing paper.

“My first, and rather surprising, observation of these three samples is that I detect an incredible, and much more pronounced graphic ease in the sample written ‘right-to-left with the left hand’.

In the interest of further investigation, and after closer inspection, I decided to contact other frustrated left-handers who have felt free and allowed themselves, from time to time ever since their teenage years, to write from right-to-left. Left-handers who have felt constrained since childhood were happy to talk about their experiences and have their feelings validated.

To locate this practice in left-handers’ personal experience, many remember their reaction to mirror writing when they were kids. While the writing appeared backwards to other children, to them it seemed like the right way! Left-handers have had to adapt their writing to a right-handed world by conforming to the convention of writing from left-to-right.

I am surprised to see that certain phenomena are recurrent. In the “left-to-right with the left hand” writing, there are a fair number of letters drawn backwards, especially d, g, q, f, and p. Some writers, often during their teenage years, stop forming certain letters in direction they were taught.

Several letters of the alphabet do not lend themselves to this type of transgression, which is evidenced by a reversal of the conventionally accepted writing direction in addition to more or less significant alterations in the shape of the letters. It should be noted that each letter analyzed by the graphologist is infused with its own emotional value.

When I looked at the so-called “mirror writing” (right-to-left with the left hand), I noticed that the backwards letters had disappeared and one by one, they once again, quite naturally and logically, appeared in the proper direction.

Taking this logic further really helps to understand the full impact of the suffering experienced by left-handers and those frustrated by left-to-right writing conventions, who face intense pressure to adapt to right-handers’ preferences. Not only can learning to write be long and difficult, but it can also be painful; it’s easy to imagine that some might feel so discouraged they want to give up entirely. The fact that it requires so much effort deserves our attention. This is important to take into account. For left-handers, writing from right to left is a way to relax and “untangle” the mind. It is invigorating, restful, and provides instant calm and consolation when times are hard. This exercise in a therapeutic context can be justified by its deconditioning and relaxing effect. These left-handed writers who are “over-adapted” suddenly feel freed of an enormous weight and can let their strokes wander the page. They can finally express their true feelings in their own way. They can reserve this restful practice as a place to have fun and communicate with others facing the same challenges. It’s a way to rediscover “original pleasure”, as one person put it.

When working with children and teens who are dysgraphic for various reasons, one role of the graphotherapist is to help them relax and finally feel free so they can rediscover pleasure in writing. A child who does not enjoy the process is never going to be a happy writer. So, the question is how can there be any harmony in writing if there is no pleasure in creating it? The task therefore falls to graphotherapists to be pay attention to this question of pleasure, and offer solutions.”

Continuing education is indispensible for all types of therapists. So I have had the occasion to attend seminars and take a lot of notes on tracing paper, all written in my own opening direction, right-to-left, of course!

* This testimonial also appears in the book Gauchers en difficulté, la latérapédagogie, une richesse inexploitée (Editions Pierre Téqui) by Joëlle Morice Mugnier

A first-hand account by a 35-year old left-handed woman

“After my interview with Joëlle, we talked about the challenges facing left-handers in our society, and how they cope (reading and writing from left-to-right in a world made mainly for right-handers, etc.)

I am entirely left-handed and I explained the difficulties I’ve always had with writing and trying to quickly understand a text when I read.

We did a test and I realized that my left-eye is dominant and is the one that I tend to prioritize, especially for reading. Joëlle then explained to me that it’s just a question of putting more energy into my right eye.

So I made an effort to pay attention to my right eye while reading. The result was almost immediate. I felt relieved because instead of “pushing the words” with my left eye to read, I pulled them along with my right eye. Over the following days, I could both read and understand texts faster.

By giving me the time to experiment, this “minor” detail that has been brought to my attention has literally changed my life and made it much easier!”

Arabic written from left-to-right with the right hand

Ghada is from Lebanon and is right-handed. Her native language is Arabic, which is written from right-to-left. Like most of her fellow countrymen and women, she is a frustrated right-hander when it comes to writing from right-to-left.

When she was a child, Ghada studied French, a source of satisfaction for the left hemisphere of her brain and a chance to use the left-to-right dominant opening direction corresponding to the right hand and eye, in phase with normal brain functioning for right-handers. Ghada eventually moved to France to complete her studies.

As part of the Vittoz method training program, I offer a day-long course in Paris designed to sensitize participants to laterapedagogy. One evening, after teaching my course, I received Ghada’s testimonial by email:

“The connection between my left hand and my right-brain plugs directly into an emotional space. I also associate it with my migraines, a source of a lot of suffering – physically in my right brain, and also psychologically speaking. The flexibility it provides in terms of my right-brain functioning is already incredible.”

Three months later, Ghada gives me the following update on her progress:

“I wanted to tell you how delighted I am by my new discovery: I’m absolutely fine – it’s just because of where I come from that I’m a frustrated right-hander! Through doing the “two opening directions” exercise, I discovered a special and personal aspect that I identified with. This is why it’s easier for me to write in French, not just because I’ve b been a good writer in French for a long time, but because now I realize that it is written in my dominant opening direction.

Now I’ll tell you about experience writing in Arabic with my right hand from left-to-right on tracing paper. First of all, it provides a very pleasant opening feeling. I didn’t feel at all empty or lost. Writing was easy, light and comfortable. When I turned the tracing paper over, I was stunned! The result was flowing, clear and immediately legible writing – really amazing, and this was even the case when I hadn’t written in Arabic in ages! It’s clear that one needs a little time to get used to it – it’s important to slow down the pace of writing at the beginning so that spontaneity can emerge. It’s a way for me to be able to enjoy the sensation and that helps restore a sense of order in myself. I’ll definitely be sure to do it again. What a wonderful thing to discover!

Finally, Ghada concludes:

“Now, both sides are OK for me:

The left hemisphere of my brain controls movement, especially of my hand, and activates my right brain, which is my identity, roots, pleasure, my bright and creative side where there is desire, passion and emotion. In sum, it’s the place where my ‘most desired actions’ come from, deep inside myself.

When I move my right hand, the right hemisphere of my brain activates my left brain, which represents my will, which triggers my decision-making capabilities, and though they are sincere, they do not involve as much emotion. This is the side that generates my ‘intentional actions’, providing the ‘I’ in ‘what I want’, ‘what I choose’, and ‘what I decide and do’.    

Hats off to both you, and to my own abilities! I’m becoming increasingly autonomous in terms of dealing with my migraines, which are more and more manageable.”

* This testimonial also appears in the book Gauchers en difficulté, la latérapédagogie, une richesse inexploitée (Editions Pierre Téqui) by Joëlle Morice Mugnier

Few elementary school teachers have not had to deal with students struggling with a variety of “dys”: dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, etc.

One such teacher decided to allow one of her students, a struggling left-hander both in terms of hand use and general orientation, to write all of his poetry assignments for the year in his opening direction from right-to-left on tracing paper. The student’s drawings for each poem were glued opposite on the right-hand page. Little by little, his mood began to improve.

Contrary to what one might think, this has helped the student be more socially integrated. He is invested in his dominant space, and can affirm his identity as a left-hander while at the same time allowing right-handers and those around him to adapt to (right-handers can turn over the tracing paper to read the writing in the conventional left-to-right direction) what he was in the process of becoming: a left-hander set right!

Last year, a 17-year old carpenter-in-training came to see me just five months before he had to pass his professional certification exams. He wanted to address the following concerns :

  • Left-handedness ;
  • Reading and writing slowly ;
  • Cognitive difficulties (concentration, comprehension, memorization, reformulation of ideas, etc.) especially in French, technology and workshop classes ;
  • Stress, apprehension, anxiety, lack of self-confidence, etc.

Imagine how surprised David’s French teacher was when he turned in a homework assignment written on tracing paper:

“Ah! It’s a bit odd, but as long as you’ve done the exercises and I can read and correct them (meaning when the tracing paper is turned over to be read from left-to-right) – that’s the main thing that matters.”

In addition, David found writing class notes on tracing paper to be much more comfortable:

“It has allowed me to better understand the content and memorize facts easier. In fact, reading my notes from right to left really helps a lot. Over all, I fee surer of myself and more self-confident.”

I discovered I was left-handed during the first session for our son.

You checked my wife, my son and me, and we all proved to be left-eyed.

The work for our son – a challenged homogeneous left-hander – has started, and you have also suggested that I practise writing with my left hand at home.

At first, I thought this was quite an odd idea, but took a piece of paper at home and wrote from right to left with my left hand. It took me a second session to understand how to form the letter o, and once I understood that, I knew how to draw all the other letters and I carried on from right to left… And I actually ENJOYED it! Really enjoyed it. My hand-writing was smooth, the lines were fluid – a real pleasure.

Something else came to light: when I write with my left hand, my right eye is very focussed as my hand hides what is coming from my left eye, so that my right eye is active, as well as my left brain hemisphere.

I was also very surprised to notice, during another session, that I was good at drawing what was in front of me (a landscape) with my left hand, and this without tiring, whereas I know to be rubbish at drawing with my right hand. I could feel that with my left hand, right eye and left brain, I was never bothered by all sorts of emotions and could achieve piles of work, analyse and draw while keeping focussed.

I then tried to use my right hand again, so left eye and right brain for me, and I immediately experienced waves of emotions, daydreaming, and so on… This is a nice state of mind, it makes me creative, but to be honest, I’d happily leave it behind at times and let the hard-working side of me come fully to the fore.

Finally, this morning, for Music Day, I was playing the recorder for the children at the nursery. I then realised that the main hand holding the recorder is the LEFT hand! “Could the recorder be a therapeutic instrument for left-handers?”, I wondered. Why not?

Thank you !